Childhood Obesity and the New PE


Last night on the evening news there was a piece on the rise of childhood obesity. One of the proposed solutions was the so-called new PE. This consisted of work with treadmills, exercise bikes and other apparatus some of it very high tech. Every child had a heart rate monitor and they were taught to stay within certain well defined exercise zones. The teacher was not teaching he was supervising. The commentator remarked on how much this looked like a health clinic. Precisely, that is exactly what it looked like and as we well know health clubs do not necessarily promote good health. The stress there is on appearance (I digress). As I watched this I could not help but think how much money all the equipment cost. With the cost of the equipment they could have financed the salaries of two more teachers to decrease the class size and actually teach and motivate the kids by making it more individual. One huge problem with PE today s that it is a dumping ground, the class sizes are significantly higher than the "academic" subjects because you can handle more people in PE. It is not unusual to see gym classes of 45 to 50 students. This is a fallacious assumption. The new PE is not the solution. New PE or old PE not much effective is accomplished in that environment, beyond crowd control.
There is no doubt that childhood obesity and other diseases of inactivity are huge problems (no pun indented). But this "high tech" approach is sending the wrong message. It is sending the message that you need sophisticated exercise equipment to exercise and a heart rate monitors to effectively workout. Sometimes what is old is new. We need to get back to vigorous activity that challenges the youngsters to their ability level. We need to teach them how to use their bodies, to experience all patterns and varieties of movement and to learn to push themselves. There is so much that can be done without equipment that is what should be taught. Lets not create another dependency and give them an excuse not to exercise because they do not have equipment. This is a problem that has many dimensions that are indicative of serious problems in our society as a whole. As professionals we need to get PE recognized as important for physical, cognitive and psychological development.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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